Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Washington Cascades bike tour, Day 6, Paradise and Mt. Rainer to Windy Point campground
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.
Leaving Paradise (what an odd phrase to type) we knew we'd have 30 miles of wonderful downhill, with only one small climb in the middle before we'd have to climb again. We dressed warmly and promised to stop regularly and enjoy the mountain, vistas and morning light. There's so much to enjoy.
We were having a wonderful day until we reached the mini-climb about 16 miles into the 30 mile descent. As we headed up Tricia downshifted and — nothing happened. We stopped and started bicycle triage. The shifter clicked, but had no resistance and the rear derailleur didn't move. It didn't take too long to discover Tricia's shifter cable had broken. She'd had her bike inspected before the trip and was rather annoyed that the kind of problem she'd thought to avoid had just happened. So, what to do? There's no way she's going uphill in high gear.
When we'd finished cursing, we made a plan. We'd turn around and ride downhill to a wide spot and hope that Greg and the support van hadn't managed to sneak past when we were in a restroom. We also flagged a car and asked them to keep an eye out for the van at the bottom of the hill just in case we'd missed it.
Eventually, in a not horribly long time, though it seemed like forever, Greg drove up, and noticing our wild waving and perhaps tears, pulled over. In an amazingly short time he fished the frayed cable out of the shifter, installed a new one and pronounced us ready to go. Disaster averted.
Heather, riding "sweep" for the day, rolled in while Greg was working and tossed a small feel-good bone to us by saying "Well, you two aren't who I expected to catch."
And with that we were back on the road and headed for still more wondrous views.
Not only are the views and flowers interesting, the geology is fascinating as well. Even my untutored eye could often see how glaciers and water had carved, and continue to carve the earth.
After our long downhill we got to climb back up to 4400 feet and Whites Pass, where we stopped at a gas station for lunch. Unlike most gas stations this one had, in addition to the usual fare, locally smoked salmon. Not too shabby. We also realized it was a mail pick-up point for travelers hiking the Pacific Coast Trail when we saw a backpacker picking up the package they'd held for him.
After our last climb of the day we got to enjoy a 15 mile slight downhill and a mild tailwind. It's sections of the road like this that trick me into thinking "Yep, I've got this cycling stuff down. Am I strong today or what?" Delusions can be a beautiful thing.
Barbara Kingslover's Prodigal Summer and Tricia found a perfectly appropriate place to read it.
At our map meeting we went over the next day's route, little knowing that, though Windy Point wasn't too windy that day, we would discover that Washington could indeed kick up a breeze.